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    Our Director Director's Blog

    Retirement

    I’m happy to report that OPM today issued its final Phased Retirement regulations. I know that many agencies and Federal employees are eager to take advantage of this new, innovative alternative to traditional retirement.

    I think that this new policy, once it is in effect, will meets the needs of employees while allowing managers to continue to tap into the experience, the wisdom and the judgment of our talented Federal workforce. Like any policy, it will come with many questions, so let me try to address some of them today.

    Number One: What is it?

    Under Phased Retirement, a full-time employee will be able to work part-time and start collecting retirement benefits. Phased retirees must also spend 20 percent of their time mentoring their fellow employees as a way for them to pass on their knowledge and skills to their colleagues. OPM will begin accepting Phased Retirement applications on November 6.

    Number Two: Who can participate?

    This is not a one-size-fits-all program. Whether you are eligible will depend on which retirement system you belong to and how many years of service you have.  

    Number Three: What do I do if I want to participate?

    If you are interested, the first thing to do is to talk to your manager and /or your Human Resources office to see if this is an option for you. Assuming you are eligible, you can fill out an application. Once your agency approves it, OPM will process it.

    Number Four: How are my benefits handled during Phased Retirement?

    Phased retirees will still get health benefits under the Federal Employee Health Benefits Program (FEHBP) and will still be enrolled in the Federal Employees’ Group Life Insurance (FEGLI) program. You and your agency will continue to pay the same shares of the premiums. But in the case of benefits such as pay and leave, a phased retiree will be treated like a part-time employee. 

    Number Five: If I am participating in Phased Retirement, what are my options to end Phased Retirement?

    You and your agency will decide together how long you want to continue as a phased retiree, the timing of your full retirement and whether you want to ask to return to work full time.

    Remember, if you think Phased Retirement is for you, talk to your manager. Many more details about the plan can be found on OPM.gov

    To me, this program is a win-win. Employees can design a smooth transition into the next phase of their lives, and agencies across government can get a head start on succession planning. 

    So I hope all Federal employees will review the details of this new program. Think about it. Talk with loved ones. And as always, thank you to all of our Federal employees for the work you do for the American people each and every day. 


    The Office of Personnel Management is committed to the accurate and timely processing of retirement claims to Federal retirees.  In recent months, we have taken steps to reduce the backlog in processing Federal employee retirement requests, addressed the needs of the Retirement Services (RS) Information Technology system and improved customer service in RS.

    Because of the hard work of our employees, OPM has made significant improvements to retirement processing efforts over the past year.  As of the end of fiscal 2013, the claims inventory was 17,719 cases – a 71 percent reduction since the peak of 61,108 cases in January 2012.  As of February 2014, the average time to process a new retirement claim was 61 days. The average processing time was 91 days in July of 2013 and 156 days in December 2011.  While annuitants wait for their final monthly annuity, OPM places new retirees on interim pay which on average constitutes approximately 80% of their final pay within 7 days of notification of their retirement.  Process improvements achieved through the hard work of our RS employees and strategic efforts have allowed for this reduction in inventory.  
     
    While parts of the retirement process remains paper-based, OPM has begun a gradual transition to a fully digital process. Since 2005, new employees’ data is all maintained electronically.  The OPM Strategic Plan and OPM Strategic IT Plan outline the fully electronic process using that data.  Once the transition is complete, most retirement data will be electronic, and the vast majority of records will be sent automatically through the system to the points where a human decision-maker is still needed.

    We are expanding on the Retirement Case Management System being developed with resources Congress provided in 2014. We are doing that by moving to align our retirement processing systems to a common IT platform with other OPM activities. This will make it easier to accomplish future incremental retirement processing improvements and take advantage of data OPM will gather throughout an employee’s career lifecycle.

    The IT improvements included in the President’s fiscal 2015 Budget request are based on the Retirement Services Strategic Plan and similar successful information technology initiatives. In addition, we are working closely with major commercial providers of IT services that support agencies’ retirement application processing to ensure that Retirement Services information technology systems are compatible and consistent with current technology.

    While OPM has made progress, I will work closely with leadership and employees to continue to improve the services that our customers deserve and expect.  We are working to prioritize claims processing, customer service, and IT modernization, including the development of a case management system for Retirement Services.

    I remain humbled by the hard work and dedication of OPM employees, and want to assure the Federal workforce that I remain focused on providing RS the tools it needs, including to  improve Retirement Services IT.

    We will continue to make every effort to provide the excellent and timely service that our world class Federal workforce deserves.


    My first week at OPM is already over and it’s been an intense, exciting, challenging and informative first five days on the job. I’ve had the chance to meet the senior staff and their support teams. I’ve also learned a great deal about all of the intricacies of OPM’s departments and how much everyone at OPM does on a daily basis. So, for that, thank you. Your work is important and impressive. We couldn’t run this agency without you.

    I thought this would be a good time to talk to you all about a few of my priorities and goals for my time at OPM.

    First and foremost, I want to be your champion. I want the American people to know who you are, and what you do, and how that makes a difference in their daily lives. I am going to represent you across the country, because you deserve the recognition. You deserve to have people know how hard you work and that you dedicate long hours to very difficult issues. Federal employees deserve to be recognized.

    I want to tackle some of our most pressing issues to ensure that we are able to serve to the best of our ability. In my first 100 days at OPM, I plan to work with my team to create a plan for handing I.T. modernization across the agency, especially for retirement. I’ve had the chance to meet and talk with our new CTO, the CIO and others every day this week, and I can say that there are some fantastic ideas in the mix. We’re definitely on the right track.

    I also want to make sure that the Federal workforce looks like America, that it is diverse, inclusive, and reflects the people we serve. If you are smart, if you are dedicated, and if you are ready to work hard for what you believe in, we want you here. We will continue to build stronger pipelines into Federal service and ensure that we are cultivating and attracting the talent that we need so that from resume through retirement we have the strongest workforce possible.

    This week, I challenged the employees at OPM to something. I challenged them to think beyond what is difficult and to help determine how we can accomplish the impossible.  When we set the bar high, when we strive to push our own boundaries of thinking, we move the needle. And that is what we need.

    Thank you again for your warm welcomes, your patience, and, most of all, your dedicated hard work. This was just week one and I can already see how great we will be together.

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